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Beth Altringer

February 26, 2014 12:00PM
CSB 003 on the UCSD Campus
Abstract:
Behavior for Better Innovation: Underrepresented obstacles to success in collaborative innovation projects
Most projects fail. Year after year, countless initially promising projects – tech startups, restaurants, films, campaigns, government software – get launched only to quickly disappear. Many fail even though those involved had the necessary skills and experience, high levels of motivation, sound and useful ideas, and they believed they would succeed. Why then is project failure so common? My research has found cognitive and social biases that impede success on team-based innovation projects. We fall back on heuristic biases when overwhelmed, and the chaos of disruptive innovation is nearly always overwhelming. How can teams overcome these biases to succeed? In this talk, I’ll share examples from my research and teaching that illustrate strategies – like delaying premature commitment and designing diagnostic and triangulated feedback channels – to help teams make their way through the fog of innovation to success.
Bio:

Beth Altringer is a Visiting Lecturer in the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is a psychologist of small group innovation and human-centered design, with a Master’s degree in architecture. Her research focuses one main question: what factors differentiate more (and less) successful innovation projects? Altringer has worked with hundreds of teams across a range of multinational companies and educational institutions, using both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore this question, and is interested in practical ways that more teams can be more supported to succeed more often. Dr. Altringer is very active in curriculum development for innovation education. She created and leads the b4bi Group, which focuses on four areas: educational experience design (courses), student idea development (active development and partnerships), applied scientific research, and research-based practical experimentation to support the general public in making progress on their personal and side-project creative goals. In addition to her work at SEAS, Dr. Altringer works with the Harvard Innovation Lab, co-leads Harvard’s winter-term immersion in Cultural Entrepreneurship in New York City, is a Faculty Associate of the Berkman Center, and served on MIT’s Task Force for Learning Environments in 2013.

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